Rekindle The Fire
By Eli Stutzman
March 1, 2013
The book of Galatians is one of those books of the Bible that has been of tremendous influence in my life. In the other letters to the churches, specifically 1 and 2 Corinthians and Colossians, Paul wrote concerning immoral practices that needed to be purged from the church. The church at Galatia had a different problem. It was the same thing that so often happens when churches lose their spiritual zeal: they default to legalism. Martin Luther said, "Religion is the default mode of the human heart." Religion enslaves, and the pure gospel of Jesus Christ sets us free. Anyone, regardless of birth or creed, can be set free.
When the Anabaptist movement began, it focused on the baptism of adult believers. The need to make a public confession of faith in Jesus Christ was key to being baptized. It was common to have thousands of converts in a year. So many joined the Anabaptist movement that the established church was losing members in alarming numbers. I am convinced the fire of the Holy Spirit was driving them. Today, Anabaptists are no longer a threat to established churches in the way they were back then. Unfortunately, the fire has mostly gone out.
Paul, contrasting slavery and freedom in his letter to the Galatians, draws upon the Old Testament example of Abraham and his two sons. One was from a slave woman and one was from the promise made years before.
I sometimes wonder what it was like to be a slave in the South, hoeing and picking cotton. If we were to drive past a plantation, we would not likely know the difference between a free man and a slave by observing them in the field. They both worked hard all day and got dirty from their work. One was paid for his labor and the other was not. A slave could not be an heir. If we had been slaves working for someone else and then found freedom, we would value freedom very highly.
Slaves and freemen both did in the field what needed to be done to bring a crop to harvest. The difference was seen in the house. A free man could say no to his boss without fear of severe punishment. He could ask for time off, perhaps to see a distant relative. An adopted son, who had once been a slave, would appreciate his freedom better than anyone else. That is what we are as believers. We work because we are asked to join in the effort Jesus put forth to make his kingdom on earth and heaven a reality.
Galatians 4:6-7 And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father. Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.
This verse takes on special meaning when we realize the word "Abba" was a term a child would use similar to the way "daddy" is used today. A relationship has need of constant nurture, or it will grow weaker. So the primary difference is whether we have a relationship with Jesus Christ or we practice a list of do's and don'ts. That is why believers need to meet together often, and yes, even more as the day of Jesus' return approaches.
Hebrews 10: 25 says, Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.
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